The dangers of letting yourself be defined by what you do


At 28 years old – okay, almost 29 years old – some might say that a career change is a little premature, that I have barely wet my feet in the “real world” to become dissatisfied in my field.

Of course, I beg to differ.

At times like these, I like to mentally arrange my peers into career categories.

First, there are those who knew what they wanted to be since birth and never deterred from that. They are quite happy and financially secure, strolling along their fated path.

There are those who played around with a few options throughout college and/or early adulthood before choosing a satisfying career. They, too, seem quite happy and financially secure.

Then, there are those, like me, who just never seem to be satisfied. We always want more. Perhaps we are of the notion that we deserve the universe and refuse to settle until it is bestowed upon us. I fell into a career in law about 10 years ago. While I have enjoyed it thus far, I have realized that I long ago hit the glass ceiling; there is nowhere else for a paralegal to go on the corporate ladder, and I have no desire to go to law school.

I have one week left at the law firm where I have worked for just under 2 years. I have learned a tremendous amount both personally and professionally. I have found that I measure career satisfaction in terms of: Is this where I want to be when I am my mom’s age? I am not terribly sure if that is normal or not, but it has helped me make some pretty tough decisions about the direction in which I want my life to go.

While I was flying through my list of paralegal duties today, the thought occurred to me that this could very well be my final week in law. I may never again sign my name, Paralegal to Attorney So-and-So. I may venture off into the world of Internet marketing and never look back. Am I okay with this? Not sure, but I am definitely willing to test the waters.

The problem is that my resume does not follow my career goals. I have often referred to law as a black hole, something I fell into years ago and have never been able to escape. It has always been so much easier to find another paralegal job, rather than try something totally different. And, admittedly, there is something fetching about the title. It makes me feel important and feeds into my narcissism just enough; a certain level of attitude is perfectly acceptable and often expected. There is a certain level of respect that laymen give to paralegals, even if I have mistakenly been called a lawyer more than once.

I feel like I have allowed my career to define who I am. I have allowed the “glamour” of the profession to overshadow the fact that I am perfectly capable of excelling in another field. Overconfidence in one field can often lead to a complete lack of confidence in every other field, despite the fact that the education, drive and experience (transferable skills) are there to justify a career change.

More to come. 🙂


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